Friday, May 6, 2011

The Cosby Show Was Not The Greatest Black Show of All Time

By Julius Kane

Stop playin' 'Good Times' was better than 'The Cosby show' for real; the first three seasons before the father's character was killed off, anyway. You can run around town and act like you're embarrassed of 'Good Times' but I sure as hell ain't. A couple of so called critics even said 'The Cosby Show' was a "real depiction of a Black family." Again, stop playin'. How realistic is it even in WHITE AMERICA for a doctor to be married to a lawyer, have half a dozen kids and they all go to college? What did 'The Cosby Show' teach you? Sure, it made you wish for a better life and smashed a lot cultural stereotypes. But 'The  Cosby Show' wasn't the best Black television show of all time; not by a long shot.  In actuality 'The Cosby Show' was the best Black television show for White folks to watch. It allowed White folks to see a much different side of the Black experience and gave Black folks faces, places and images they could be extremely proud of.

70 % of  Black Americans then and now can relate to 'Good Times'. I sure as hell learned more watching the Evans family then I did from the Huxstables. 'The Cosby Show' went well out of its way not to address any social, political or racial issues. Meanwhile almost every episode of 'Good Times' was relevant and spoke to subject matter that directly effected the Black community. But now, in their efforts to please White folks a lot of you are praising 'The Cosby Show' as if anything that happened in their house happened in your house; you wish! Have you forgotten- for the first few seasons 'Good Times' stayed away from  stereotypical fare, but instead had a timely and often blunt message in its script. But almost every episode of  'The Cosby Show' was about an affluent Black couple raising bourgeoisie children and having rich folks problems. Sure, it was funny but un-relatable.

In the meantime 'Good Times' introduced you to Black Jesus, told you how to watch out for venereal diseases,taught you about high blood pressure,questioned the validity of  school tests, talked about the chasm between blacks going to school with whites and so on. One episode even showed the Black father going to snatch his son up from the clutches of a street gang. But the most important message in 'Good Times' was the family; and the Black father as the head of the household and the Black mother as the neck. James Evans ( John Amos) never gave up on his family and when he was down he always got back up. He not only taught that to his children but to every Black child in America that watched the show. 'The Cosby Show' pretended racism didn't exist but 'Good Times' faced it head on.

Bill Cosby may want to get up on his soap box now that he's filthy rich and talk trash about what ills Black America but for eight long years he kept his mouth shut and took Black America to la-la land. He carefully  catered his show to white folks and secondly to Black folks. Cosby kept his mouth shut and got paid; cool,do you. But you can't take anything away from the prototype and the strong Black cast who became Norman Lear's sacrificial lambs; the black balled and B-listed cast of 'Good Times' who sometimes went months without getting paid. They stood for something other then money. Anyone who says 'The Cosby Show' is the greatest Black show of all time hasn't watched Everybody Hates Chris, Roc, The Bernie Mac Show, or The Boondocks.

The cast of 'Good Times' were harassed, threatened and pressured constantly early on by Norman Lear to play out negative, degrading scripts; which they refused to do. Lear eventually fired John Amos and forced Ester Rolle out. She returned, but the show was never the same. Norman Lear not only wanted the sitcom to have a single mother, but he wanted every black stereotype you can imagine written into the show. And we've all seen the effects of negative Black images on television. After robbing Eric Monte of his ideas, stealing his royalties, black balling him and predicting positive images of a Black family would fail; the show became a big hit!

 'The Cosby Show' continued to be a vehicle used to impress white America; which it did. And by jumping on 'The Cosby Show' bandwagon you're still letting white America decide what's best for you. I liked both shows but in actuality you wouldn't have had 'The Cosby Show' if it wasn't for 'Good Times.' I salute the cast and creator (Eric Monte) of 'Good Times' for standing up for themselves and for all of us; God knows they didn't have to. It's funny, but I can still hear John Amos now.... " Good Times was recorded live before a studio audience." Damn that brings back some memories. They sure as hell don't make Black actors like that anymore!

Taken from
Join me on



  1. Julius, I think both shows were good and both had their time, as in, both shows came along at the right time. Good Times indeed changed after John Amos's character was killed off. But the show did hit on a lot of necessary and hot issues at the time. It was truly "must see" TV.

    Bill Cosby introduced us to another part of Black America and dared us to dream. For those of us who wanted more, he also dared us to think "outside the box" before it was popular. I will always disagree that a black doctor and attorney cannot be married. Growing up in the 'hood of Memphis, TN, I couldn't see it because I wasn't exposed to it. But going to college and being able to see the world, outside of one city or one neighborhood, that's the world I became exposed to: successful (career-wise) brothas and sistahs hooking up, and having successful marriages/unions/relationships, etc.

    Somewhere, somebody made up their mind that you had either like Good Times or the Cosby Show, and I don't think that's the case. When I was young, I gravitated to Good Times and for a little bit, even the Jeffersons, because it was nice seeing us on TV. I think Roc took up the banner from Good Times and did an excellent job. I think certain shows have their time and place. Good Times, Cosby Show & Roc all came along at the right time when they all were viable to us as a race of people.

    Also, big kudos to you for bringing up Roc. That was a damn good show that never really gets the credit it should. Unfortunately, the father died at the end of last year. Good post!

  2. Great article, Very thought-provoking.
    I always thought "What's Happeningh?" (or as I call it, "Cooley High Lie") was a more realistic show. On Good Times, after the death of James Evans, Sr., it went downhill, because it had the buffoionish JJ trying to be the "man of th house," yet he was portrayed as less knowledgeable than his younger siblings Thelman and Michael.

    Good Times I feel is a more realistic show than the Cosby's could ever hope to be. I think while Cosdby inspired, Good Tomes (and Whjat's Happening) told it like it was.

    Thanks for letting me have my say.

  3. I totally disagree with you my man. It seems that the only version of reality some of us want to brand as "real" is the one that deals with our poverty and lack of opportunity. The Huxtables do exist in real life just like The Evans do. Just because their are more Evans in Black America then Huxtables doesn't mean that the Huxtables didn't deserve to have their story told. Why do we always look for every form of Black Entertainment to "tell it like it is"? "Telling it like it is" has stagnated hip hop and the Black Film Industry. The Cosbys shouldn't be looked to as a representative for all of Black America. It doesn't deserve to have that kind of a weight put on its back. Dallas, The Dukes of Hazard and Beverly Hills 90210 never had to carry the weight of representing all white people. They were just good TV shows. Star Trek and Mork n Mindy were FAR from reality...
    The Cosby show was well written, the Actors were all believable and the show was very successful.